CARILLON 101 – Lesson 4

The carillon here at Washington Memorial Chapel is considered by many to be the voice of the Chapel. Centrally located within Valley Forge National Historical Park on a busy state road and Park walking path, the tower is seen and heard by many – parishioners, local residents, and visitors from the USA and around the world. Offering excellence, beauty and inspiration, the carillon is a part of the Chapel’s outreach mission.

Sunday Morning Chapel Services
Every Sunday morning since 1953, the carillon has been played for our Chapel’s main service, now at 10 AM. Appropriate selections for the particular day, hymns and carillon pieces are played ½ hour before and ½ hour after this service. Click on this link for the short video of “Easter Hymn”.

Frank P. Law Summer Carillon Concert Series
Also since 1953, our annual summer concerts have been bringing local residents to the Chapel for outstanding performances by leading guest carillonneurs from America and around the world. Our audience, many of whom have been attending and supporting these concerts for many years, enjoy dinner or dessert while listening to the world’s best carillonneurs play hour-long formal concerts every Wednesday evening at 7:30 PM during July and August. These concerts are funded primarily by our local friends.

One very popular concert is our “Music of the British Isles” featuring English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh favorites on the carillon, followed by a bagpipes concert by Irish Thunder Pipes & Drums. This award-winning band has been performing at these evening carillon concerts since 2001.

Irish Thunder Pipes & Drums

Click on this link below for the video of Irish Thunder Pipes and Drums from Swedesburg, Pennsylvania.

Sunday Afternoon Playings
Every Sunday afternoon in April, May and June and every Sunday afternoon in September, October and November, the carillon is played at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30. Primarily for our Chapel and Park visitors, these 20-minute mini-concerts feature a hymn, a patriotic selection, a popular classical transcription and a piece written specifically for the carillon. Each concert is an introduction to the carillon as many of these listeners have never heard such an instrument. While the formal Wednesday evening concerts are played rain or shine, these concerts are played weather permitting.

Patriotic Holidays and Special Events
The carillon is played for Memorial Day and Independence Day, as well as our yearly observance of French Alliance Day in May of each year. Funded by the Washington Memorial Heritage, these inspiring concerts are well attended by Chapel and Park visitors. Other playings include our Easter Sunday Afternoon Concert and Christmas Eve playings.

Weddings, Funerals Services and Burials
What’s a wedding without bells? The carillon is played for all weddings at the Chapel as well as many funeral services and burials in the Chapel Cemetery. The carillon adds joy and gives comfort at these important times.

Caroling at the Carillon
Another favorite of many local residents is our annual community Christmas carol sing-along. On a Sunday evening in December, the carillon accompanies carolers singing many of the well-known Christmas carols. Here’s a short video of last year’s singing.

This concludes my series of lessons on the Chapel’s carillon. I hope you have found them enjoyable as well as informative. If you have questions about the carillon or would like to support our concerts, send me an email at
– Doug Gefvert, Chapel Carillonneur

Washington Memorial Chapel